Read: 2 Kings 20:1-6; Genesis 16:7-14; Luke 18:35-43
I'm becoming more accustomed to the messages that greet me when I call businesses with questions. We have all heard them, haven't we?
1. Your call is very important.
2. You are fifth in the queue. Please stay on the line.
3. We are experiencing a higher than usual call volume. Please try again later.
4. I am not at my desk right now. Please leave your name and number, and I'll get back to you as soon as possible.
5. Please listen to the following options as our menu has recently changed.
Ah, the old standards, but this week, I was reminded that sometimes we can't even get into the queue for needed information. May I share a few small incidents that picture that very thing?
First, when I tried making a call, I received the message that the box was full. No more room for me to leave a message. I have received that one before, but it is a reminder that technology has its limits, and we are left with no way to get into the queue. Second, I called a business for information. I chose from the menu options the one closest to the one that I thought might meet my need. Music. The cheerful little tune played. Once, twice and then three times. No message that someone would shortly be with me. No option to leave a message. Not even a reminder of the importance of my call. Talk about striking out. Not to be deterred, I called the number again and chose a different option. Someone would answer this time. My countenance fell a bit when I heard that same cheery tune. I gave it another three times through before hanging up in defeat. No one was present to take my call.
How different it is with God. The Bible is filled with reminders of His being aware of our needs and how He hears our cries and how He cares and helps us, Matthew 6:7-8; Psalm 34:15-19. Because we belong to Him, we are always "in the queue." So, for today, let's remind ourselves of two things:
1. How precious it is to have a God Who has both the capacity and the desire to hear us.
2. How precious it is that we can give that same gift to those God places in our paths.
In our scriptures for today, we are given three pictures of God's attentiveness and caring.
1. Hezekiah, 2 Kings 20:1-6. This man was one of Judah's good kings. He worked to get rid of the idolatry that was so prevalent in his day. Although the king's father was wicked, Hezekiah served the Lord with vigor. When we meet him in 2 Kings 20, Hezekiah has just learned that he would soon die. Hezekiah evidently had more that he wanted to do; so, he cried out to God asking for more time. Although Old Testament people who loved God had some knowledge about what would happen after death, Job 19:25-26, Jesus' defeat of death through His resurrection has given us a much more wondrous picture than they had. God's reaction to His king's prayer? I love it because it is here that we are reminded that Almighty God has both heard Hezekiah's cry and seen his tears. He sent Isaiah His prophet back to Hezekiah to tell both him and us that truth. If that weren't enough, God also assured him there would be deliverance for Israel from her enemy. Some who tell Hezekiah's story say he was wrong to ask for more time.
They talk about Hezekiah's ungodly son who was born during the extra years God gave Hezekiah. He introduced terrible idolatry and wicked practices back into Israel before his repentance. That is all true, but I'm thankful that Hezekiah's tears and prayers give us the opportunity to glimpse, once again, God's tenderness and care. God, at least in what we are given in the Bible didn't scold Hezekiah for his petition.
2.Hagar, Genesis 16:7-14. Hagar's life was far different than Hezekiah's. Here in Genesis 16, we meet a woman who was a slave. She was not Jewish but Egyptian.
As chapter 16 opens we discover that she was carrying the patriarch Abram's child. She had been given to him for this very purpose because Abram's wife Sarai had been unable to conceive. When Hagar became pregnant, there was friction between Hagar and Sarai Abram's wife. Hagar was haughty, and Sara was angry and treated Hagar harshly. What could come out of this man-made mess? God had a message to give both us and Hagar. A beautiful truth that could be seen in spite of the ugliness of wrong actions and reactions. When Hagar had it up to here with her living arrangements, she fled. There she was alone with no resources. That is, until the Lord came on the scene with a precious message. He knew her. In her pain and in her angry reactions, He knew what was going on in Hagar's life and what the future would hold. She was not alone. Talk about being seen. No wonder she spoke of God as the One Who has seen and looked after her, Genesis 16:13. Even her child's name, Ishmael, Genesis 16:11, was the reminder that God hears.
The king and the servant girl. Both received truth about a personal God Who sees, hears, knows and cares; however, we're not done yet!
3.Luke 18:35-43, The Blind man. We don't know his name or anything about his family, but there he was by the side of the road begging. Then, it happened. The noise of the crowd, and he wondered what was happening. Jesus was passing by. By the man's reaction, we know that he had heard about Jesus. He called Him Son of David and cried out for mercy. He had faith that Jesus could restore his sight, and this was his chance. No wonder when those around him tried to silence him, this unnamed man cried out all the louder. Jesus’ reaction? He stopped and commanded that the blind man be brought to Him. God in the flesh heard him and stopped to ask what he was requesting. Jesus cared enough to stand still, giving the man His attention and then restoring his sight.
These three vignettes only scratch the surface, but they remind us that God cares for those others try to silence as well as kings and servant girls. As those who belong to Jesus, we want others to know these truths about Him, and thankfully, with God's help, we can display them in our every-day lives. No, we can't perform miracles as Jesus did or tell people about their futures as God did for Hagar; however, we can notice their tears and hear their cries. We can listen attentively instead of being distracted as they speak, and we can stop and ask questions that demonstrate that we care. What I like about each of these simple actions is that virtually anyone can do them. Age doesn't matter and strength or a lack of it isn't important. A great intellect or a large bank account neither makes these actions possible or keeps someone from doing them.
In a world where we sometimes can't even get into the queue, how different our lives might look if enabled by the Holy Spirit, we demonstrate these qualities that God has displayed in the pages of the Bible. Then if someone is encouraged by our caring, we might have the opportunity to introduce them to our Father Who so perfectly and sweetly has demonstrated them.